I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

A sign from a building on 42nd Street -- I like the optimism describing the elevator etiquette as “Post Covid-19 Guidance.”

Because of course, we're not post anything. Things may not be as apocalyptic as they seemed in those dark days last spring, but nothing is even close to normal. None of my friends who still work in the corporate world will be returning to the office until sometime next year. Restaurants in New York City will soon allow indoor seating, but I won't be going. I can usually find decent toilet paper and paper towels in the supermarket, but I can't count on it, so when I see it, I buy it.

With the weather cooling off, walking around in a mask is much more comfortable, but so much of what I think of as the New Yorkness of my life here is gone. It's not just movies and museums and restaurants, though I miss them all desperately sometimes. It's hopping on a bus to go up to Central Park and look at birds, and grabbing a salad in the Whole Foods in Time Warner Center on the way home. It's spending an afternoon just wandering and taking pictures of people on the street, and stopping in a cafe for coffee and a brownie. It's finding a fun shop I'd never noticed before, or browsing in a bookstore, or noticing what had changed since the last time I walked down a particular block. And if you needed a bathroom, you could always duck into a hotel or a department store, or hail a cab and go home.

I can go out more now, but I've got an invisible tether keeping me close to home. And though I remind myself for the millionth time how lucky I am -- I'm not sick, I'm not being evicted, I'm not flooded out by a hurricane or choking on smoke under orange skies -- it does chafe.

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